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How Netflix high-school grad constructed up a $100,000 enterprise


Justin Ellen discovered himself at a troublesome crossroad when he was 17 — ought to he pursue his ardour for baking full-time, or go to school to additional his schooling?

At the moment, the youngest contestant of Netflix’s common baking present was making customized truffles from residence as a side-hustle, whereas additionally juggling with college.

He was bringing residence at the least $5,000 a month, however he could not assist however examine himself to his friends.

“The factor that obtained me down was like, I used to be seeing all my associates [apply for colleges].”

Nonetheless, the younger celeb baker caught to his weapons, believing that “everybody has their very own path.”

“[I’m an] entrepreneur first, then a baker. If you wish to be a baker, then go work for another person,” says 19-year-old Justin Ellen, who has bringing in 6-figures along with his cake enterprise.

Justin Ellen

Simply two years later, the full-time entrepreneur and proprietor of cake enterprise, Every thing Simply Baked, is incomes greater than $100,000 a 12 months — and he isn’t turning again.

In March this 12 months, he made his debut on Netflix’s “Is It Cake?” — a baking contest the place cake artists create edible replicas of on a regular basis objects, comparable to bowling pins and stitching machines.

The present, which premiered on the streaming service on March 18, was within the Top 10 most-watched list in the U.S. for 4 weeks. It additionally raked in additional than 100 million hours of views from around the globe.

However the path of success isn’t with out failures, Ellen tells CNBC Make It. Sheer arduous work and clever phrases from family members additionally helped prod him alongside.

‘Who made this cake?’

As a digital native, Ellen knew from the beginning that having a social media presence can be essential in constructing his enterprise. Nevertheless it took a variety of observe — and braveness — to make himself recognized. 

“To start with, my social media wasn’t nice … not nice pictures, they had been very blurry. However as I stored on progressing, I spotted they should be tremendous clear.”

Ellen additionally noticed that Instagram was “actually pushing” video content material on the platform and that is when he determined to show the digital camera on himself, sharing snippets of his life as a younger baker. 

“I used to be undoubtedly shy at first as a result of it was simply awkward for me … however the extra you do it, it is like, oh nicely and truthfully nobody cares in case your hair’s a little bit frizzy immediately,” he shared.

“Truthfully, it makes you extra relatable. Folks need to know the individual behind the model and in the event that they take pleasure in you, they’re gonna need to spend cash with you.”

Even so, Ellen stated that posting on social media was one thing he “did not take severely” in the beginning.

“I used to be simply posting for enjoyable. Finally, [through] phrase of mouth … folks stored asking ‘Can I order a cake?'”

Ellen additionally slowly constructed his following and clientele by baking each time he had the prospect, even when it was for household occasions.

“It would not even should be an enormous cake … simply make one thing small as a result of you do not know who’s going to be there. Somebody’s going to eat it and ask, ‘Who made this cake?'”

Persons are shopping for designer purses for 1000’s of {dollars}. You’ve got to make your prospects perceive the price in your model and what you are offering them …

Justin Ellen

Proprietor, Every thing Simply Baked

Earlier than he knew it, he had over 50,000 followers on Instagram and was incomes about $5,000 to $9,000 a month in highschool.

“I spotted, wow, this could possibly be a severe enterprise.”

From baker to entrepreneur  

As he noticed his aspect hustle acquire momentum in highschool, Ellen began serious about pursuing baking as a profession. However not everybody accredited.

“My dad was like, a baker? I really feel like there is a connotation [with baking] like, ‘Oh, you do not make some huge cash’ or ‘You need to do a variety of work,'” he stated.

However Ellen had greater plans for himself.

“I spotted that I did not should suppose small. There’s a lot you could possibly do within the subject … take into consideration each lane you could possibly go into.”

“I checked out different bakers who created their enterprise — they’ve product strains, which I had no concept that that is one thing you may even do.”

It was round this time that Ellen, like his associates round him, had to consider what’s subsequent after highschool.

“In all probability round junior 12 months, when everybody’s like trying to find faculties … I used to be debating [about] going to culinary college. [But] I spotted it wasn’t for me,” he stated.

If you wish to be a baker, then go work for another person.

Justin Ellen

Proprietor, Every thing Simply Baked

“I simply felt prefer it wasn’t price it and it was some huge cash. And you’ll’t actually educate the best way to do artwork in a way, it is actually simply observe — and the extra you observe, the better it should get.”

That was the pivotal second for Ellen, who realized he was not only a baker in highschool anymore.

“[I’m an] entrepreneur first, then a baker. If you wish to be a baker, then go work for another person.”

Greatest enterprise recommendation

Social media might have been “utterly free” to make use of as a type of advertising and marketing, however Ellen wanted assist with the preliminary capital to get his enterprise up and operating.

“To start with I used to be promoting cookies that I shipped out … I requested my dad and mom for $500 to purchase bins and different supplies.”

That was the primary and final time he ever requested his dad and mom for cash for his enterprise, he stated.

Working a enterprise is pricey. You do not need to waste cash simply since you suppose you’ve got a good suggestion.

Justin Ellen

Proprietor, Every thing Simply Baked

Justin Ellen now sells his personal line of cake mixes and baking instruments on-line.

Justin Ellen



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